HOORAY!!! I GOT A NEW BIKE!!!
For a lot of people I guess getting a "new" bike happens every few years. Not so for me. I've bought all my bikes 'used', at least for the last 35 years or so. Thinking back to when I last bought a NEW bike, I was still a kid, and it was a Schwinn Stingray (red 5 speed). And I'm pretty sure the year was 1970.
I did buy a "new" sort-of-mountain-bike back in Hawaii as a young Navy lad. This was when Mt biking was new, and the Specialized Stumpjumper was THE bike to have...and if you couldn't afford that you got the little brother "RockHopper". I thought it was ludicrous to spend what either of those bikes cost (like right at $1000 back in 1984/85!!!), so I got a Chinese piece of junk for like $150 at the Navy Exchange. It wasn't even a real Mt bike, and that's OK as I didn't do real Mt biking on it...I only used it to ride to/from the Pearl Harbor ferry boat (took me out to Ford Island where I worked), and that was on paved bike-paths and roads. And that's about all this bike was good for...to go on actual dirt wold have been quite scary. IMO this bike doesn't even count as a bike...it was right in there (or maybe below) Huffy quality.
Since then, zippo...not-a. My "new" (to me) Cannondale Scalpel that I bought 2 1-2 years ago (after getting hit by that bull on my old Mt bike causing the frame to crack...TWICE) was a 1 year old shop Demo bike. Still it was/is a great bike and a great deal. But THIS...this is a brand new model. Trek's first REAL foray into the recreational Gravel world. It's got the brand NEW full Shimano Ultegra 11 speed drivetrain with the new Shadow rear derailleur and a new model of side pull front derailleur (designed to make sure it doesn't rub the larger knobby tires people will be putting on this bike), with new Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes. It's got an 11 speed 11/34t cassette (the same size that's on my old 26" bull-Mt-bike, except that's it's an ancient 9 speed). It's got standard 'recreational' 50/34t chainrings (for those of us who aren't superhuman and/or doping), standard 175mm cranks, a full carbon frame, and FOUR water bottle mounts! (yes, you read that right...FOUR!) It comes stock with the most excellent Schwalbe 35mm 700c gravel tires, which are totally in the sweet spot for "gravel" rides. For road rides I can toss on a set of 28mm road slicks, and for even MORE aggressive dirt Trek claims it will fit up to a 45mm knobby tire (however pretty much everybody who has one says even with that there's more room, it will likely fit up to a 50mm, which is basically a 29" x 2" mtb tire). This bike has SERIOUS OPTIONS!
The seatpost has Treks patented 'suspension system (can't remember what it's called right now, but it's the same as on the ultra-speedy and quite expensive Domane line, only that has it front AND rear). Trek figured that with the larger tires people will likely be running on this bike they don't need the front, as the tires themselves will be a pretty good suspension system.
Here's the bikes link on the Trek site: Trek Checkpoint SL6
Yes, it looks pretty much like a "road" bike, but it's SO much more. It has FULL rack-mount holes (all covered with little caps) for mounting full-on road-touring gear including front and rear fenders!
This bike will pretty much cover about 80% (or more) of the riding that I do. My Mt bike will still have duty in the REAL mountain biking genre...single track, wicked downhills, anything like that. But for anything LESS than that this bike will do, and that will go all the way across the spectrum into regular road rides. For any rides with crappy pavement, this bike will eat it up! Sure, it's not a race bike as it weighs 19lbs. But I think this bike will literally be with me until I'm pretty much done riding, or at least on dirt. And I've always wanted to do some dirt bike-packing AND road-touring...and this bike will do both!
So I just flew home from Colorado Springs today and picked it up this afternoon. I'd gotten a text from Scott (the bike shop owner) saying it arrived in the shop last week...a full month early! (I had ordered it back at the end of March during a fleet-wide Trek sale, which knocked off $200, hooray!) and it wasn't supposed to be delivered to the shop until sometime in July, so it's here a month early! Boy was I surprised! So far this bike is a 'special-order' only model, and shops won't likely be stocking it until all the pre-orders are satisfied. I have a few friends who have "gravel bikes" and personally I think this one WAY out-classes all of them! It's versatility simply blows my mind! There's just not much that this bike can't do.
So...I'm taking it in to work tomorrow and after work I will take it on a shakedown dirt and pavement ride on base (provided the wind isn't HOWLING and it's not 50 degrees buried under the marine layer).
I'm still so excited I can barely stand it, and my smile is still stuck on my face! A NEW BIKE! OH MY GOODNESS!!! I'd say that it's a mid-life-crisis thing, but sadly I'm afraid I'm WAY past that (mid-life). With my Moms recent passing I think it's really got me thinking about my own mortality...and specifically, how long I can continue to ride. I will be 58 in just a few months (HOLY CRAP!)...so maybe 10 to 15 years of riding on dirt, and maybe a few more specifically on pavement...and that's if I'm very lucky and don't get hurt in the meantime. Just thinking that...10 to MAYBE 15 years of riding left scares the living bejeebers out of me! How can I be SO OLD all of a sudden?? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?
Well...I for one intend to get the most out of what life I have left. I'm going to slide across the "finish line" all broken, battered and bloody (hopefully not TOO broken, battered and bloody tho), having lived my life to the fullest.
In the meantime I just need to keep this bike away from cows!